The defending state champions have a new head coach.

Tim Skarperud has been hired to take over the reins for the Grand Forks Red River boys hockey team, one of North Dakota's traditional prep hockey powerhouse programs.

Skarperud takes over for Mike LaMoine, who served as interim coach for a year, and happened to lead the Roughriders to a state championship. LaMoine, an elementary school principal and a member of UND's 1987 national championship team, was a late fill-in last season.

Skarperud, who won an NCAA national championship at UND in 2000, has spent the last six years coaching youth hockey in Grand Forks.

"I'm super excited for the opportunity," Skarperud said. "I have a long history with Red River and a lot of passion for Red River and I'm super excited for the opportunity. With what the coaching staff did last year, there are big shoes to follow, but I'm super excited for the opportunity and hoping to build on what they did."

Skarperud played three seasons of varsity hockey for the Roughriders, bringing them a state championship as a senior in 1996. One of his assistant coaches in high school was LaMoine.

Skaperud has already been inducted into Red River's Hall of Fame.

“Tim brings with him a passion for Red River High School and for the growth of youth hockey in Grand Forks,” athletic director Mark Rerick said. “His coaching experience at the youth level alongside his playing career throughout all levels provide a base of knowledge to pass along to our student-athletes. Red River is excited to bring Tim back to his alma mater to serve as the next boys’ hockey head coach.”

Skarperud will have a deep knowledge of the players he's about to coach, too, having coached at the squirt, peewee and bantam levels in the last six years.

"I think there's a bright future for Grand Forks hockey," Skarperud said. "Fargo has some nice players coming up. Minot does, too. Bismarck won a peewee championship. There's good competition in North Dakota. I think the two Grand Forks teams -- Central is always going to be good and should have a really good team next year -- will have great competition. That's what makes it fun. You want to play good, tough teams and really compete."

Tim Skarperud
Tim Skarperud